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Reflections on DFI 47

Having recently returned from DFI 47 (47th annual), I wanted to share Danbro’s experience from the perspective of both an Exhibitor and helical distributor. The Conference was held Wednesday, October 5, 2022, through Friday, October 7, 2022.  The exhibit area was set up well and we saw lots of traffic.

The Vibe:

One of the interesting aspects of the conference was the joie de vivre exhibited by most attendees to be out and about. At the first conference since the start of the pandemic, folks were glad to see one another. I was happy to see my competitors and they me (or they were being extremely polite).  We saw some old friends such as Shawn Downey from Chance and made some new ones such as Mike Willis from Pier Tech, just to mention a few.  Despite bumping into one another occasionally bidding on some jobs, Mike expressed the necessity of all Manufacturers, Distributors, and Installers in the helical pile world to maintain high standards for the overall good of the industry.  I mentioned how Super Storm Sandy attracted more steel manufacturers in our area (Northeast/mid-Atlantic), some less scrupulous than others, to get into the helical industry. We both agreed that, as the popularity of helicals grew, quality decreased in some quarters.  As exhibitor-neighbors, I wished Mike well professionally, but not on the basepaths as his Cardinals were set to play my Phillies in the National League playoffs.  Ours is a small industry and serious players such as Mike, Shawn, the ECP crew, the IDEAL guys, and many others help to maintain high professional standards and the collegiality that benefits all of us.

Exhibitor Experience:

Danbro was unique among the exhibitors: we were the only distributor with a booth!  With respect to exhibiting, my observation has always been that you are conspicuous by your absence at these events. We have been a helical distributor for 30 years and it’s important to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry and maintain high visibility. We owe it to our customer network to keep abreast of the latest and greatest industry developments, so we can not only advise them, but give them every advantage when bidding helical projects.  From exhibits, we learn which innovations (products or installation), new applications, or product wrinkles seem to make sense and bear watching. We observe who showed up and what were they hawking.  For us, it is all part of the “finger on the pulse” attitude that we take to every conference.

Conferences and Committee Meetings:

Committee meetings are a good place to address industry issues and come to general agreement on possible actions. Recently, because of the efforts of the DFI Helical Committee and various industry activists, Los Angeles’ building codes have been updated with helicals approved for some uses.  Municipal and State jurisdictions’ unnecessary helical restrictions have been discussed in committee over the years: the successful Los Angeles Code update is just one example of how the industry can identify barriers and issues and address them, leading to wider acceptance for helical technology. The DFI provides these worthy forums where individuals in the helical community (and deep foundations community writ large) can collectively enact strategies to advance the industry for the good of all.

While Mike McCurdy, Danbro’s Regional Sales Manager, and I were chained to our booth during the Conference, our fearless leader, Frank D’Angelo, Danbro’s President, attended selected presentations and meetings.  While most of the presentations were held outside of the exhibit area, DFI, in an effort to increase floor traffic, held a few brief, visual displays on the stage in the exhibit hall.  The IDEAL Group, our supplier, gave one such presentation.  

Frank observed that both the content and the quality of the presentations were excellent and germane to the future of the industry.  Most impressed by the presentation on the Outstanding Project Award (OPA) Winner: the Mosul Dam Rehabilitation Project in Iraq, Frank gave credit to the DFI for consistently providing a helical forum: “While the helical pile was originally pigeon-holed as a lightly-loaded residential foundation product for projects such as waterproofing, today, through validation of technical merit, helicals are another viable tool for the toolbelt in the deep foundation industry.”  

As the Conference itself demonstrated, DFI continues to provide a lively forum providing seeds for thought and calls to action, while expanding the acceptance of helical technology and other deep foundations.

by Pat Haffert

Danbro Vice President

October, 2022

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